I don't know where I would be without Black films — especially classic Black romantic comedies. I mean, from Love Jones to Waiting to Exhale, and How To Be A Player to Two Can Play That Game, I've learned so much from seeing the lead characters fighting tooth and nail for the loves of their lives. And even though it doesn't always work out for these characters, there are still lessons that we could all learn from, buried within their struggles. Below are just a few of those romantic comedies that helped shape the way I view love now. And I'm sharing them in the hopes that they, too, inspire you to give love a second — or third or fourth — try.
"Love can live in the most familiar and unfamiliar places," and "letting go and letting flow" are just a couple of the common themes that live within the movies mentioned. But I also discover new messages each and every time I rewatch any of them. You know you have a classic on your hands when the film keeps you engaged, no matter how many times you've tuned in. Prepare to be completely swooned by 17 of those message-giving rom-com flicks listed below — and in no particular order, of course.
1. 'Love Jones'
I could go on and on about how Darius Lovehall and Nina Mosley's love affair impacted my life, but I'll keep it short and sweet. Love Jones showed me that safe and loving relationships can exist for Black folks, too.
2. 'Something New'
The odds seemed to be stacked against Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) in her quest to find a "good brotha." But learning to "let go and let flow" worked in her favor, and the successful woman who once thought she'd die alone found love in unfamiliar territory.
3. 'Brown Sugar'
I can't get enough of fairy tale endings, and Brown Sugar certainly delivers. We spend our time testing the ropes with Tinder and going on blind dates, when sometimes love could be staring you right in the face.
4. 'A Thin Line Between Love & Hate'
Love is safe and warm, but it can also be a dangerous game if you take advantage of it. And thanks to ladies' man Darnell Wright (Martin Lawrence), we get a front-row seat into just how savage it can get.
5. 'Love & Basketball'
Just like Brown Sugar, Love & Basketball sets love right next-door for a pair of childhood friends, and it doesn't get much cuter or fairy tale-esque than that.
6. 'Deliver Us From Eva'
There's a sweet side to every scorned woman, if you dig deep enough. And, if you're brave enough to give love a try after heartbreak, you'll be in for quite a treat. Deliver Us From Eva showed this.
7. 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back'
Age ain't nothin' but a number, and this Terry McMillan adaptation brought this idea to life. The beautiful love story was based on the author's life, and didn't quite have the IRL fairy tale ending we were all hoping for. But the film and book ended on an inspirational note.
8. 'Waiting To Exhale'
Speaking of McMillan adaptations, Waiting to Exhale is a toast to all of those women looking to start over. As hard as new beginnings may be, Savannah (Whitney Houston), Bernadine (Angela Bassett), Robin (Lela Rochon), and Gloria (Loretta Devine) fearlessly gave it a try together.
They say that you don't really get to know someone until you see them under pressure. And for Woo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Tim (Tommy Davidson), their first date proved this to be true.
10. 'Two Can Play That Game'
Some will say that this 2001 flick falls in the anti-romance movie category, but it taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of "saying what you mean, and meaning what you say."
11. 'The Best Man'
What happens in the dark will always come to the light — especially when you have a large group of loud-mouth friends.
Sporting a noncommittal air starts to stink after a while, even for the biggest of players. Marcus (Eddie Murphy) learns this the hard way, but ends up with a sweet deal after being true to himself.
13. 'How To Be A Player'
If I learned anything from this film, it's how to spot a player from a mile away. The signs are always there.
14. 'The Wood'
Never write off a high school sweetheart as being juvenile or just "puppy love." The love of your life could strike at any age.
15. 'Poetic Justice'
Losing love abruptly turned Justice (Janet Jackson) cold... That was until she crossed paths with a loud-mouth postal worker named Lucky (Tupac Shakur). Needless to say, your forever love could be lurking in the most uncanny places. You just have to be open to it.
16. 'Strictly Business'
"Never judge a book by its cover," "opposites attract," and "hard work pays off" are just a few of the lessons bundled up in this 1991 rom-com.
17. 'Just Wright'
Sometimes your "type" isn't always what's best for you. And pro-baller Scott McKnight (Common) learns this through a bit of trial and error.
Some of the movies on this list may be a bit dated, but their love lessons live on forever.